Written by : Dan Woffenden
Having finally secured their Premier League status for at least another season, West Ham are yet again in the shop window ahead of an imminent return to footballing action. With David Moyes aiming to strengthen his troops, the latest player to have been linked with a move to the London Stadium is Brighton defender Shane Duffy.
The Republic of Ireland international is a familiar face to Moyes from their days at Everton, with the latter handing Duffy his professional debut against AEK Athens in the UEFA Europa League in 2009. After various loan spells away from Goodison Park, Duffy joined Blackburn Rovers in 2014 and garnered a new centre-back partnership with Grant Hanley. Though, in typical West Ham style, the 28-year-old suffered a serious knee injury which ruled him out for a lengthy period. After overcoming his adversity he returned to the first-team to become club captain, appearing against West Ham in 2016. Super Slav’s side went on to win 5-1 that day in the fifth round of the FA Cup at Ewood Park after another magical performance from Dimitri Payet. Need I say more.
Everyone loves a new signing, that goes without question. There have been plenty of names already stirred in the big pot of West Ham transfer rumours, some of which have very little substance. The potential signing of Duffy has also divided opinion. A loan with a view to buy for £2 million? It’s a classic Sullivan deal and not one that particularly excites you as a household name, but one that we need to progress this season.
Based upon last season’s performances, it’s fair to say West Ham are lacking defensive reinforcements. With fixtures coming thick and fast across the season, Moyes will need to ensure he can rotate his side when needed. The Scot will be particularly weary that West Ham are lacking defensive experience and the fact remains, despite glimpses of his potential, Issa Diop has his inconsistencies and is far from the finished article when it comes to Premier League defenders. The depth behind Diop and Angelo is concerning too, with the likely departure of Paraguayan defender Fabian Balbuena adding to The Hammers’ defensive frailties. Gonçalo Cardoso and Jamal Baptiste are very promising defenders who could easily come into the fold next season, but West Ham cannot rely on them with such limited experience to get us out of a potential relegation dog-fight.
West Ham have lacked a solid defensive unit since the much-loved James Collins left the club in 2018. “Ginger Pele” was a no-nonsense defender who was here, there and everywhere. Duffy, at 6ft 4 inches is also a man mountain who would provide that physically imposing nature to the side, willing to get stuck in and throw himself in the way of any shot at Fabianski’s goal on those Winter afternoon’s at Turf Moor. It’s the passion we had, love and now miss in our side that Moyes is looking to bring back. Compare him to John Stones, another centre-back West Ham have on their defensive shortlist this summer. Undoubtedly, a very talented ball player but not a player that suits a side battling for points week in week out. His defensive lapses and loss of form in his spell at City have also been concerning.
Duffy provides a firm balance. Competent in the air, strong in the tackle and confident on the ball and another strong leader on the pitch. For an initial fee of £2 million it’s a no brainer for an experienced PL defender still very much in his prime. Whatever incomings and outgoings happen this transfer window, we can only hope that Moyes is backed with the players he has identified and that West Ham can progress this season. With Celtic and West Brom also sniffing around the Republic of Ireland international, West Ham need to move quickly if Moyes is to get his man. Though, as every West Ham fan knows, ‘and like my dreams, they fade and die.’